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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 87:113-138 (2021)  -  DOI:

Human impact on symbioses between aquatic organisms and microbes

Willem Stock1,2,#, Martijn Callens3,#, Shira Houwenhuyse4, Ruben Schols4,5, Naina Goel4,6, Manon Coone4, Charlotte Theys7, Vienna Delnat7, Alice Boudry4,7, Ester M. Eckert8, Cecilia Laspoumaderes9,10, Hans-Peter Grossart11,12, Luc De Meester7,13, Robby Stoks7, Koen Sabbe1, Ellen Decaestecker4,*

1Laboratory of Protistology & Aquatic Ecology, Department of Biology, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
2Phycology Research Group, Department of Biology, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
3CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Univ Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, 34080 Montpellier, France
4Laboratory of Aquatic Biology, KU Leuven Kulak, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium
5Department of Biology, Royal Museum for Central Africa, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium
6Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology, University of Ghent, 8400 Oostende, Belgium
7Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
8Water Research Institute—National Research Council of Italy (CNR-IRSA), Molecular Ecology Group (MEG), 28922 Verbania, Italy
9Departamento de Ecología, Laboratorio de Limnología, INIBIOMA, CONICET-Universidad Nacional del Comahue, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina
10Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, 27498 Helgoland, Germany
11Dept. of Experimental Limnology, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), 16775 Stechlin, Germany
12Dept. of Biochemistry and Biology, Potsdam University, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
13Dept. of Experimental Limnology, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), 12587 Berlin, Germany
*Corresponding author:
#These authors contributed equally

ABSTRACT: Aquatic organisms rely on microbial symbionts for coping with various challenges they encounter during stress and for defending themselves against predators, pathogens and parasites. Microbial symbionts are also often indispensable for the host’s development or life cycle completion. Many aquatic ecosystems are currently under pressure due to diverse human activities that have a profound impact on ecosystem functioning. These human activities are also expected to alter interactions between aquatic hosts and their associated microbes. This can directly impact the host’s health and—given the importance and widespread occurrence of microbial symbiosis in aquatic systems—the ecosystem at large. In this review, we provide an overview of the importance of microbial symbionts for aquatic organisms, and we consider how the beneficial services provided by microbial symbionts can be affected by human activities. The scarcity of available studies that assess the functional consequences of human impacts on aquatic microbial symbioses shows that our knowledge on this topic is currently limited, making it difficult to draw general conclusions and predict future changes in microbial symbiont-host relationships in a changing world. To address this important knowledge gap, we provide an overview of approaches that can be used to assess the impact of human disturbances on the functioning of aquatic microbial symbioses.

KEY WORDS: Host-symbiont interactions · Aquatic microbial symbioses · Mutualism · Anthropogenic disturbances

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Cite this article as: Stock W, Callens M, Houwenhuyse S, Schols R and others (2021) Human impact on symbioses between aquatic organisms and microbes. Aquat Microb Ecol 87:113-138.

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